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8 Lessons 30 Somethings Wish They Could Tell Their 25 Year-Old Selves

8 Lessons 30 Somethings Wish They Could Tell Their 25 Year-Old Selves

Turning 25 is an often forgot about milestone that truly marks our entrance into adulthood. While it is true that the only things we can do at 25 is lower our car insurance rates, or purchase life insurance before the cost goes up, it also marks a time in life when we start on the path toward figuring out who we are. When we enter our 30s there are several pieces of advice we wish we could give to our 25 year old selves during that important year.

1. DO allow your passion to define you instead of job titles and descriptions

Passion is an intense emotion that we experience when we feel incredibly enthusiastic about something that we deeply care about. Our passions are supposed to be the creative and driving forces behind our actions. Ideally, the work we do for a living should nicely align with what we are passionate about. However, there are times when our passions are diminished by job titles that determine the value we bring to the world. We become defined as assistants, directors, service representatives, or managers and not as creators, learners, healers, artists, poets, inventors, scholars, activists, or thinkers. Therefore, someone in their thirties wishes he could tell his 25 year old self to be your passion and not your job.

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2. DON’T let fear prevent you from asking for what you want

Fear is a powerful emotion that can prevent us from having the lives that we dream of when we become too afraid to ask for what we want. This fear arises when we feel we run the risk of being told no, or having to sacrifice something in return for what we ask for. Then it feels more safe to not pursue what we want, rather than have our dreams be blown up by rejection or tainted by concessions. Yet, many people in their thirties lament all of things they could have had if they’d only asked for it when they were 25 – an increase of pay or change of job title, a relationship with someone they’d loved but never pursued, support for an innovative business venture, etc.

3. DO judge success by how you feel, and not by what you have

When we become adults, we begin to strive for those things that indicate we’ve reached a level of success and maturity within our lives – the nice car, comfortable home, fancy clothes, and a high paying job. Every day we are inundated with messages from television, print ads, music, family and friends that tell us what it means to be successful, and over time we may stop listening to the internal messages that help us define success for ourselves. Then a day may come when we look at all of the things we have accumulated while simultaneously asking ourselves “Who am I and what do I want?” Many 30 somethings wish they could tell their 25 year old selves to take time to listen to those internal messages that will help them to answer those questions.

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4. DON’T speak about your gifts, talents, and interests in the past tense

We each have unique talents, gifts and interests. Yet, as we get older many of the things that we love to do or study fall to the wayside as we become bogged down by everyday living and responsibilities. When others ask us about our interests, creative ventures, or hobbies we may shrug and say, “Well I used to enjoy writing but can’t find the time to do it as much as I used to,” or “I used to love to travel, but haven’t done it in years.” Yet, our 25 year old selves should know that when we allow our gifts, talents and interest to become parts of our past, we miss out on those aspects of ourselves that make us unique.

5. DO appreciate the love that comes in unexpected ways

To love and be loved can be a transformative experience because it adds a special and intangible value to our lives. As cliché as it sounds, love can turn bad days into bearable ones, convert tears to smiles, and give purpose to the aimless. Often, we hope to find love through our relationships with a significant other, hoping that he or she will complete a part of our lives that feels empty. However, as we search for that forever love with that special someone, we may overlook the other types of love that have the power to transform us and our lives. Unconditional love can be found through the sincerity of long time soul friendships, or by developing extremely close and loving bonds with family members. It can be found in community, whether it is spiritual, neighborhood-based, artistic, or activist.

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6. DON’T allow the opinions of others to cloud your decision making

We’ve all experienced being incredibly excited about a new idea, venture, or decision to then have someone we love relentlessly pellet us with doubting questions. In those moments, it feels like the wind was knocked out of our sails and the air let out of our balloons. One instant we are so invested in our visions, and then someone shares their opinion about our choices and we question ourselves, or don’t follow through on a plan. However, although our loved ones think they know what’s best for us, if we always let their opinions change our minds we could be missing out on those special moments in life. Our 25 year old versions would want to know that it is important to hold on to the dreams that excite us and put the wind in our sails.

7. DO recognize when it’s time to discard old baggage and expired relationships

There’s a well known adage that says, “people come into our lives for a reason, season, or lifetime.” However, can we tell the difference between those relationships that are to last for a season those that are for a lifetime? Many of us hold on to friendships and intimate, familial, and work-based relationships that suited well us in the past, yet presently stall our personal and professional growth. Some of our relationships can begin to feel one-sided, where we give much and receive very little in return. Other times our relationships begin to feel like a contest where our loved-ones put us down, do not express happiness about our achievements, or find fault with our decisions. Many 30 somethings want to tell their 25 year old selves to let go of expired relationships to focus on more significant relationships and endeavors.

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8. DON’T judge your mistakes, but find the lesson in them

One man’s mistake is another man’s lesson, and when we learn from our mistakes we give ourselves permission to recognize our own humanity. As we get older, we have to make more and more decisions in our lives as we take on more responsibilities. Therefore, mistakes are to be expected because we cannot foresee the outcome of every choice we make. Yet, when we make mistakes we often berate ourselves what we did wrong rather than asking what we could do differently in the future to prevent a similar outcome.

Featured photo credit: Mateusz Stachowski via freeimages.com

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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